Dean Laidley

Dean Laidley (born 27 March 1967) is an Australian rules football assistant coach and former player, who played for the West Coast Eagles and North Melbourne in the Australian Football League (AFL) from 1987 to 1997, including in North Melbourne's 1996 premiership side. He was coach of North Melbourne from 2003 to 2009. He is currently an assistant coach at the Carlton Football Club.[1]

Dean Laidley
Personal information
Full name Dean Laidley
Date of birth (1967-03-27) 27 March 1967
Original team(s) West Perth (WAFL)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1987–1992 West Coast 52 (11)
1993–1997 North Melbourne 99 0(4)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1988, 1996 Western Australia 2 (0)
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
2003–2009 North Melbourne 149 (72–75–2)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1997.
2 State and international statistics correct as of 1996.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 2010.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables,

Early life

Laidley grew up in Balga, Western Australia, a working-class northern suburb of Perth.[2]

Lightly built, Laidley first played senior football at the West Perth Football Club and was recruited to be part of the West Coast Eagles' inaugural VFL squad in 1987.

VFL/AFL playing career

West Coast career (1987–1992)

Laidley made his VFL debut for the West Coast Eagles in Round 1, 1987 against Richmond at Subiaco Oval. As an aggressive half-back line player and known as "The Junkyard Dog", Laidley was known for his commitment to the contest and to winning the ball. His career had a major setback during the 1990 season when he required a knee reconstruction and found it hard to break into the team, missing West Coast's 1992 premiership win.

North Melbourne playing career (1993–1997)

At the end of 1992 he was traded to North Melbourne. A trademark of his play was the execution of the strategy of either kicking out or receiving uncontested a short kick-out to the back pocket, a strategy which was later widely adopted by other clubs.

Coaching career

Early career (1998–2002)

Following his AFL career, Laidley took up coaching, beginning with the Weston Creek team in the AFL Canberra competition.

His first AFL coaching role was with Collingwood as an assistant coach under Mick Malthouse, where he was involved in the club's 2002 AFL Grand Final loss.

North Melbourne coaching career (2003–2009)

After the resignation of Denis Pagan as coach, Laidley was recruited as the new senior coach of the Kangaroos for the 2003 season. In his first two years in charge, the team finished 10th. He took the Kangaroos to the finals for his first time as coach in the 2005 season but they were eliminated by Port Adelaide in an elimination final. In the 2006 season they fell backwards and finished 14th.

Laidley's ferocity as a player transferred into his coaching style, his team was said to embody the "Shinboner Spirit" of determination and never giving up. He was also seen on occasion to be aggressive with his players.[2]

Laidley took North Melbourne to the finals for his second time in 2007 and at the end of 2007. His contract was due for renewal at the end of the season and the Melbourne Football Club made advances to secure him as coach,[3] however Laidley's contract with North Melbourne was renewed for two years. He took North Melbourne to the finals again in 2008.

After a post season review in 2009 and following a string of losses, Laidley resigned as coach of North Melbourne on 16 June 2009, one round before what would have been his 150th game as coach.[4]

Port Adelaide career (2010–2011)

In September 2009, Laidley joined the coaching group at the Port Adelaide Football Club.

After one season as an assistant to Mark Williams and later Matthew Primus, Laidley announced that he would return to Melbourne in 2011 for family reasons but said that he could work as an opposition scout and analysis based in Melbourne for the Power. However, on 27 October 2010, the Port Adelaide Football Club announced that he would continue on as an assistant coach based four days in Adelaide and three days in Melbourne a week in the 2011 season. He interviewed for the Essendon Football Club senior coach position when it was left vacant by the sacking of Matthew Knights but was unsuccessful.

St Kilda career (2011–2013)

In early November 2011, Laidley was announced as the new midfield coach of the St Kilda Football Club.[5] Of the move, St Kilda's head of football, Chris Pelchen, said of Laidley: "Dean has a wealth of knowledge as a former player and coach in his own right. His experience will genuinely assist the development of the whole player list at the Saints."[5]

Carlton career (2013-present)

Laidley signed with Carlton as midfield assistant coach on 31 October 2013. With the appointment of Brendan Bolton Dean finished up at Carlton.

In 2018 Dean was involved at Pines Football Club were the seniors defeated Sorrento.


Playing statistics

 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T Votes
Totals Averages (per game)
1987 West Coast 151025119241433760.20.511.92.414.33.70.60
1988 West Coast 1511641392916844110.50.412.62.615.34.01.00
1989 West Coast 1510031166017640150.00.311.
1990 West Coast 1571093451382310.
1991 West Coast 150
1992 West Coast 1514251589024830130.10.411.36.417.72.10.92
1993 North Melbourne 717122096026935230.
1994 North Melbourne 7240030213743977160.
1995 North Melbourne 7230227213140382240.
1996 North Melbourne 7242124013037064290.
1997 North Melbourne 71110783211024100.
Career 151 15 22 1726 738 2464 456 148 0.1 0.1 11.4 4.9 16.3 3.0 1.0 20

Coaching statistics

 W  Wins  L  Losses  D  Draws  W%  Winning percentage  LP  Ladder position  LT  League teams
Season Team Games W L D W % LP LT
2003 Kangaroos 221110152.3%1016
2004 Kangaroos 221012045.5%1016
2005 Kangaroos 231310056.5%516
2006 Kangaroos 22715031.8%1416
2007 Kangaroos 251510060.0%416
2008 North Melbourne 231210154.3%716
2009* North Melbourne 1248033.3%1316
Career totals 149 72 75 2 49.0%

*Dean Laidley resigned as coach in 2009. Darren Crocker coached the club for the remainder of the season.


During a 2006 match against St Kilda, a Kangaroos supporter had a confrontation with Laidley during a period of consistently poor performances. The supporter twice made remarks to which Laidley responded with an honest summation "we are all hurting", later inviting the supporter to the club rooms to see how badly the players were feeling due to their onfield performance. The footage was captured on television and broadcast nationally. In an unrelated tragedy the supporter committed suicide later that night in the path of an oncoming train due to a gambling-related depressive illness.[8] The man's family confirmed that the death was unrelated to the incident with Laidley.

In 2007, former Kangaroos' star Wayne Carey criticised Laidley and argued that another former teammate, John Longmire, should replace him as coach. Laidley's contract was due for renewal at the end of 2007.[9] After a forthright response by Laidley that referenced Carey's personal scandals, Carey responded by describing him as arrogant.


  1. "2015 Coaching Panel". Carlton Football Club. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  2. Harms, John (2 August 2003). "The Laidley Spirit". The Age. Melbourne.
  3. Denham, Greg (9 August 2007). "Laidley rejects Demons' advances". The Australian.
  4. Paine, Chris (16 June 2009). "Laidley ends 'great journey' at North".
  5. Brodie, Will (2 November 2011). "Saints nab Laidley". The Age. Melbourne.
  6. Dean Laidley's player profile at AFL Tables
  7. Dean Laidley's coaching profile at AFL Tables
  8. Holroyd, Jane (30 May 2006). "Fan's death 'devastating': Laidley". The Age. Melbourne.
  9. Timms, Daryl (16 March 2007). "Dump Laidley: Carey". The Advertiser.
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